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Portland, OR
USA

I exist to help dads learn to communicate and engage with their young adult daughters.  I provide resources from my vast amounts of research and experience with dads and daughters, and this is the place where you'll find the tools you need to become the hero you've always wanted to be.

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Scents and Sensibility: How a Dad Can Make a Forever Investment in His Daughters Life

Michelle Watson

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Per·fume [pərˌfyo͞om] · a fragrant liquid typically made from essential oils extracted from flowers and spices, used to impart a pleasant smell to one's body or clothes.
 
Day [dā/] · a period of twenty-four hours as a unit of time; a particular period of the past, an era.
 
Per·fume Day [pərˌfyo͞om · dā/] · one of Dr. Michelle’s favorite days of the year when her dad extravagantly spoils her by investing in the perfume of her choice, all with the goal of creating:

  1. a forever memory

  2. a wonderful sensory experience that that lingers throughout the year while serving as a reminder of her dad’s love for her every time she wears it.

I imagine by now that the majority of you have heard me talk about my annual adventure with my dad that we affectionately call “Perfume Day.” 
 
(If, by chance, you haven’t read about it in my book, “Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart” [http://amzn.to/1N3tp0W] or listened to the story in my book [on Audible at https://adbl.co/2MqSuiW] or heard my interview with my dad on The Dad Whisperer [https://bit.ly/2UqfEq0], I’m excited to share more about it with you today so that you can invest in your daughter’s life in a powerful way with one aromatic experience!)
 
It’s worth noting that my dad had absolutely no template of how to be a father. His dad wasn’t present for much of his life, and when he actually was home, he was often in a drunken stupor with unbridled anger. When my dad was a young adult, his father lived in a railroad boxcar, homeless and alone, suffering from the devastating effects of alcoholism.

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Then years later when my dad was in his late 30’s, he attended a conference where the men were given a challenge. In his own words my dad says, “we men were asked to think about ways we could be special to our kids, and since I had daughters I thought that perfume might be a good thing.”
 
And with that, Perfume Day was born.
 
This year my challenge to you as dads is this: why not approach the topic of creating a lasting memory with your daughter from a creative angle that involves a sensory and fragrant interaction between the two of you. Let me share why this one act will go a long way to reaching her heart.
 
First, did you know that some experts say that our sense of smell is the strongest of our five senses? Not only that, but olfactory nerves activate the primitive part of our brain that stays in our long-term memory and corresponds to motivation and emotion. This intricate wiring in our noses means that a certain scent can activate a powerful memory because it often outlasts other memories that are carried by our other four senses.
 
Dad Translation: By creating an experience with your daughter now that revolves around choosing her favorite perfume, you are giving her a sensory memory that will last a lifetime. The perfume itself will provide a tangible reminder of your love for her because of the way that actual scent will be attached to her memory networks for the rest of her life. From this day forward, every time she smells that scent, it will remind her of you.
 
Talk about a deposit with dividends that exceed the investment!
 
Second, this idea of perfume being a memory that can last a lifetime is rooted in history, going back a lot farther than my dad (who has been doing this at Christmas with me for 27 years now!).
 
Whether or not you’re a Bible reader, I’m hopeful that you’ll find this story relevant in light of this theme.
 
Just before Jesus’ death, his friend Mary poured expensive perfume on his feet, an action that was met with ridicule by some of the men who watched it happen. One in particular noted that it was a waste since the money could have been given to the poor.
 
Jesus came to Mary’s defense and told them to “leave her alone” while highlighting that she actually was preparing him for his upcoming burial. He told them that the poor would always be with them, but He wouldn’t. Mary seemed to understand something deeper than those around her and she communicated with her actions that the One she loved was worth this kind of costly investment. 
 
I guess you could say that “Perfume Day” had it’s beginning between a woman and her Savior.

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Author Ken Gire says it this way:
 
We all grow up and grow out of our childlike enthusiasms. But maybe something of the little girl in Mary never did. And maybe one of the reasons she  meant so much to  Jesus is because sitting at his feet and anointing Him with perfume came as naturally as children throwing their arms around their daddy’s legs and showering Him with hugs and kisses.
 
Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that He had previously invested well in her, which resulted in her enthusiastic response back to Him out of a relational overflow.
 
Dad, if you’ve never done it before, I encourage you to take the step this year to make Perfume Day a new tradition with your daughter.
 
(And if you’re like some of the men I’ve spoken to who say that their daughter “isn’t into perfume,” perhaps you’ll create a different kind of forever memory by together making a plate or bowl at a “Make-Your-Own-Pottery” store. I realize that her sense of smell won’t necessarily be activated, but it’s still a great alternative as she’ll have that piece for the rest of her life as a reminder of you).
 
I wish each of you the best ending to 2018 and look forward to staying connected in 2019 as I continue bringing practical action tools that you can add your fathering toolbox.
 
But before I go, here’s a couple of pictures from Perfume Day with my dad. I trust you’ll enjoy this walk down memory lane as I’m sure it will inspire laughter at my expense once you see some of my hairstyles!

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“Thanks Dad for creating forever memories with me and letting me know I’m worth your investment. I love you, Michelle”

10 Reasons I Thank God He Made Fathers

Michelle Watson

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I realize that we’re a week past Thanksgiving, but the idea of giving thanks is still on my heart. So I figured it was a fitting time to let you dads hear about why I’m thankful that God made you.

First, the backstory. Having come alongside girls and young women now for the past four decades, I can undoubtedly say that a father is one, if not the most important person in her life.
 

Yes, moms are essential and necessary and important on more levels than I can count, but every woman with a dialed-in dad will confirm that he has been vital to developing her core sense of identity. It’s her relationship with her father that has helped to build her self esteem and self worth. Even more, she will tell you that the foundation that her dad laid (or didn’t lay) has significantly impacted how she still views herself today.

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Now back to you as dads. I want you to know what I honestly think and believe about you. Plain and clear. Straight to the point. 
 
This is why you really matter and why your presence makes a difference in the lives of your daughters:

  1. You are the one whose opinion matters most. 

  2. Your attention communicates more per square inch than you could ever imagine.
    (I’m not sure why it does, but it just does. You’ll have to believe me on that one!)

  3. When you show up, it carries more relational weight than most anyone else.

  4. When you provide for her needs, she settles into knowing she’ll truly be okay.

  5. When you look at her with love in your eyes, you are placing a deposit into her heart so deep that she will hold it there long afterwards.

  6. Your smile tells her she’s loved and special, treasured and valued.

  7. You make her day when you kindly respond to her, especially when you go out of your way to give your last bit of energy just to let her know you’re there for her.

  8. When you’re proud of her, she thrives in doing anything possible to ensure that it stays that way.

  9. When you’re around, she feels safe.

  10. Your support makes her believe she can do anything as long as you’re there to cheer her on!

 So just in case you ever think that your presence in your daughter’s life is less than essential or even insignificant, please trust me when I say that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
 
I am thankful for each of you and the way you are literally changing the core of our culture from the ground up as you intentionally and consistently invest in your daughter’s hearts! 
 
To sum it up, I simply say, “thanks Dads.”


My Dad's Response to "Boys Will Be Boys" (Guest Blog by Hannah Ellenwood)

Michelle Watson

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Today I have invited my incredible friend, Hannah Ellenwood, to share this amazing story about how her dad’s influence powerfully shaped her life as a young girl...and how this one experience has stayed with her to this day. I know your heart will be touched, as was mine
~Michelle

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on the couch with my roommate remembering back to my experiences growing up in the Czech Republic.
 
I remembered the feeling of being the only foreigner in my school, the only kid who came into first grade not knowing a word of Czech. The only kid who was a Christian. The kid who was immediately labeled as the “stuck up American,” who definitely wasn’t one of “them.”
 
Most of the time that didn’t bother me because my parents helped me understand what it meant to live and “stick out” for Christ. But this label was given to me because of my classmates’ perception of where I was from, not because it was true.
 
So, I found ways to adapt and fit in where it didn’t compromise my faith. I remember I would come home and ask my mom not to set out a new outfit for the next day because my Czech friends wore the same outfit to school three days in a row and I didn’t want to stick out in a new outfit each morning. I was okay with being different because I was a Christian, but culturally, all I wanted was to prove I could be one of them.
 
Me and my roommate’s conversation sparked a memory of my dad from 4th grade.
 
As I sat there sharing my experience with her, I realized how profound it was, how impactful in helping me know my worth as a woman.
 
But back then, it just felt like a threat to that “cultural sameness”.
 
In Czech culture it was perfectly normal for guys to touch girls whenever they had the urge to. They’d walk by me and my friends in the halls during recess and make a game of slapping our butts or trying to hang out in our locker rooms while we were changing after swim class. They’d call us really degrading names. And as we all grew up together, they would get more comfortable stepping further out of bounds.
 
I remember feeling really upset by this deep down, but my friends would laugh it off and tell me to let it happen and not make it a bigger deal than it was. My teachers would roll their eyes and wave me off saying: “Boys will be boys!”
 
One day, after I had repeatedly asked him to stop, a boy in school touched me inappropriately and made a disrespectful comment. I came home and told my dad what had happened and his first response was: “I’m fed up with this and this is not okay - I’m coming to talk to him tomorrow.”

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I was mortified. I felt valued and safe with my dad, but at the same time, he was threatening my “security” at school. No dad ever came in to school to deal with something like this - because it just “wasn’t a big deal.”
 
So, all I did to prove that I fit into this culture was about to be shattered.
 
All next day I sat in my desk while all of my classmates engaged in learning the seven cases of the Czech language and I waited for that knock on our classroom door. Terrified. But also ready for my dad to kick some BUTT! The knock came, my heart dropped into my stomach, and my dad opened the door.
 
The whole class turned to the door as my dad said: “Hi Mrs. Teacher,’ (that’s what you call them in Czech) ‘I’d like to speak to Viktor in the hall, please.” Viktor knew what this was about and there was momentary satisfaction of seeing him shake in his seat. She said: “Go right ahead!” I think she was fed up with Viktor too, but at wit’s end on how to get through to him.
 
My dad pulled him outside and told him if he EVER touched HIS daughter again, my dad would be back to deal with him.
 
Viktor came back in laughing, trying to save face and show the class that he wasn’t phased. But I saw something different in him. Fear and respect. While he did continue saying disrespectful things about me and my dad and my family, he never touched me again.
 
What I was terrified of came true. My classmates ridiculed me for taking things too seriously, making a big deal out of nothing, and called me all kinds of names that just felt yucky to hear as a nine-year-old.
 
But I stand here today, an almost twenty-seven-year-old woman, knowing my value and my worth. I’ve never questioned whether I should let that stuff happen or act like it’s not a big deal.
 
My dad’s vision was so much bigger than mine at the time.
 
Yes, it was okay to want to adapt culturally to the place I lived - but never at the cost of my worth or value. Just because something is true of a culture doesn’t mean it’s good or right.
 
Through his actions, not just his words, my dad showed me that no man has a right to my body because the people around me tolerate inappropriate touching or because he’s a guy and “boys will be boys.”
 
He taught me it’s worth sticking out, going against the cultural grain and bearing that ridicule. Because it’s not just about sticking out as an American in Czech culture. I stick out because of the Kingdom culture I am a part of and because the King who calls me by name calls me His daughter and sent His son to die on the cross because I am THAT valuable to Him.
 
I’m so thankful my dad could see and act beyond the embarrassment I felt in that moment and the months to follow because he knew my eternal value and believed it was worth protecting.
 
Because I was worth protecting.

Five Steps for Taking Away the MYSTERY of Father Your Daughter

Michelle Watson

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I often hear fathers tell me that their daughters are complicated and complex, confusing and unpredictable. I get that.


But believe it or not, I honestly believe that we girls are not as hard to understand as we may seem…once you figure out the simple tricks to gaining access to our hearts, that is!

My decoding strategy for you is coming to you straight from the one Man in all of history who always got it right when it came to relationships.  Of course you know who I’m talking about: Jesus. I figure there’s nothing better than learning from the best!

Here are five “easy” steps to decoding and relating to your daughter, especially during those times when things are emotionally intense (and may seem SPOOKY to you!).

(And if you don’t want to read further and just want a one-step plan, I would say to be gentle, soft, and calm.  And yes, those ARE manly words, I assure you, because only a strong man can accomplish this…it’s hard!).

Here goes:  There were two sisters, Martha and Mary, and they were close, personal friends of Jesus. He knew them and they knew him. For better or worse. 

Let’s pick up the story (from Luke 10:38-42 if you want to look it up later) where Martha is overly reactive, super stressed, and basically freaking out. 

If you can relate to experiencing any of those realities in your home, listen to what Jesus (with his male energy) did to enter the fray with his frazzled female friend. 

1.  He lets her vent to Him while He listens to all of it.
Even when she dramatically tells Jesus that he “doesn’t care” (false assumptions always take place during meltdowns) she continues by crying about having to do everything “by myself.” And if that wasn’t enough, she then barks at Jesus and demands that he tell her sister to help her. Surprisingly, he doesn’t lecture but listens and essentially absorbs her intensity by being her sounding board.

2.  He says her name twice….gently and lovingly.
There’s something calming when any of us hear our name.  And for us girls, it’s grounding for us to be spoken to by name. If you speak your daughter’s name with love in your tone and in a gentle way, she will usually come towards you----maybe not right away, but it is a powerful, healing strategy that works.

3.  He sits with her in her emotional reality.
Notice that he doesn’t try and talk her out of what she’s feeling or try to get her to think rationally. No lecture. No criticism.  Jesus knows that she couldn’t hear it anyway while being so worked up.  So he simply stays with her, looks at her, validates her, and puts words to what she’s feeling, calling it “worry” and “upset.”  He tenderly names her emotions. No judgment.

4.  He highlights all that is on her life plate.
As girls we are wired to multi-task.  That’s why we can talk on the phone, paint our nails, watch a show, and do homework…all at the same time!  Yet all of a sudden we reach our max and then comes the explosion.  Again, this is where we need gentle grace not power positions.  Jesus just told Martha that he knew she had “many things” going on, leading to her melt down.  How kind of him to notice.  If you validate all that is pressing in on your daughter, your words will go long and far to make her feel heard and understood.

5.  He directs her to focus on one thing.
Jesus tells her that “only one thing is needed.”  The implication is that it’s about focusing on Him as the one thing rather than all the needs around her.  When we girls get overwhelmed with the much, we need gentle, supportive guidance to take it one thing at a time.  Breaking it down into bite size pieces is immensely helpful when we’re breaking down.
Summing up: 

  • When your daughter is melting down, sit alongside her and listen to her vent, move towards her and lovingly say her name.

  • Tell her that you understand that she is “worried and upset.” 

  • Let her know you do see that she has a lot on her plate, and assist in helping her to focus on one thing. 

I know it’s easier said than done but these five things will make all the difference in the eye of the storm when you are there trying to keep up with her complexity.  And after the storm has passed, the main thing your daughter will remember is that you, Dad, were there in it with her.

Choose one thing from the list above right now and commit to putting it into action this week out of love for your daughter, which is the best way to turn this week into a “HalloWIN” celebration! 

A Note to a Dad from the Darkness (Guest Blog by Don Blackwell)

Michelle Watson

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My friend, Don Blackwell, shares a similar passion to mine in that he loves inspiring dads to intentionally engage with their daughters. Today I am honored to have him share this guest blog, a letter he’s written from the vantage point of a young woman who wants her dad to hear the deep longings of her heart.   
 
To set the stage for what you’re about to read, I want you to hear—in Don’s own words—
his motivation as a dad who seeks to champions other fathers with daughters. 
~Michelle


From Don:
“Michelle, thanks for sharing my post with your audience. I hope it will encourage dads to explore letter writing as a means of reaching their daughters’ hearts. I’m a BIG believer in letters, cards, and notes left in backpacks, on breakfast plates, under pillows, etc.  As important as heart-to-heart conversations are, spoken words too often dissipate in the air and lack staying power. Written words – of affirmation, apology, encouragement, etc. – are permanent. Daughters can keep them (most do) and keep referring back to them when they need them most.

 
I’ve had the privilege of listening to the hurting hearts of countless women – young and not-so-young – over the past decade. Many have been ravaged by eating disorders. All share one thing in common: Their desire to know that they are loved by their dad – unconditionally – and that he is proud of them. This letter was the result of a late night text message exchange with a incredible young woman who wasn’t sure of either.”
 
Dear Dad,

I’m not sure how I got to this very dark place.
And I’m even less sure how to navigate my way out of it.
I’m also not sure why I feel so worthless, like such a burden and so alone.

And I’m even less sure how to go about ridding myself of these feelings.
What I AM sure of, however, is how much I need you tonight.

I need a strong shoulder to cry on.

I need a voice I can trust to tell me everything’s going to be alright.

I need reassurance that the sun will come up tomorrow.

I need to be reminded that I’m good enough – “AS IS”.

I need a heart so filled with love that it has no space to be ashamed of me.

I need to know that, despite all that’s happened, I’m not a disappointment.

I need someone to check “under my grown up bed” and in the closet – the way you once did when I was a child and tell me it’s safe for me to go sleep.

I need to know I’m someone’s pride and joy – your pride and joy.

I need someone who will listen without judging me.

I need to know that I’m loved and that I matter.

I need you to show me the truth about me – again and again and again – until I can see it myself.

I need YOU, Dad.

I need you to hold hope for me.

I need you to light the way, to take my hand and walk with me out of this darkness.

I need to know I’m not alone in this fight.

~Your 22-Year-Old “Little Girl”

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Don Blackwell is the dad of two adult children, Ashley and Greg, and a trial attorney at Bowman and Brooke, LLP in Dallas, Texas.
He also is the author of “Dear Ashley . . .” – A Father’s Reflections and Letters to His Daughter on Life, Love, and Hope and an avid blogger.
Don can be found on Twitter and Instagram @donblackwell4.

How to Raise a World Changer

Michelle Watson

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I’ll let you in on a little secret: I want to be a world changer! 
 
Stated more specifically (and with a lot more words!): I want to leave a lasting legacy of equipping fathers with better tools to intentionally and consistently pursue their daughter’s hearts, resulting in a culture that is influenced by healthy women who love with passion and lead with strength.
 
With that goal in mind, you can imagine my piqued interest when I saw the cover of Time Magazine a few months ago where the entire periodical was dedicated to one primary theme: 

FIRSTS : WOMEN WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD

Donning the cover was a beautiful African-American woman by the name of Ava DuVernay who was noted to be the first black women to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Though I'd never heard of her, I was thrilled that she was being honored publicly as a significant female influencer. And under Ava’s picture, there was a list of numerous other women who were highlighted as firsts in their respective fields.

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These women ranged from military heroines to those with financial success to brilliant entrepreneurs to accomplished athletes to governmental officials and on it went. Among those noted as powerful change-makers were Oprah Winfrey, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Walters, Sheryl Sandberg, Selena Gomez, Serena Williams, Madeline Albright, and so many others.

As I opened each page in the magazine, I was inspired by courageous women who ranged in age from 16 to 87, all who didn’t let the glass ceiling hold them back. I was intrigued to read that many of these women credited those who sought to stop them in their pursuits as being motivators in their stories. (Now that’s the epitome of resilience!) And although some of them talked about struggling to find their place “in a man’s world,” it was incredible to hear how many of them were championed by men in their lives.
 
But beyond talking about the impact of supportive men in general, many of these world changers noted that she had a dad who played a huge role in her success. 

For some reason, that piece of information caught me by surprise. And even though I spend much of my time focusing on the dad-daughter relationship, I wasn’t expecting these high achievers and national icons to talk about their father’s influence. Yet I was beyond excited to read about powerful women whose dads celebrated them!
 
Here are three stories in that article that caught my attention and I believe you’ll enjoy them too:

Philanthropist Melinda Gates is the first woman to give away more than $40 billion and she said, “If your dad believes in you, that’s important to young girls because if your dad thinks you can be good at math and science, good at business, good at anything, it lifts your confidence and your self-esteem.”

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Loretta Lynch is the first black woman to become U.S. Attorney General and she recalls how her father, a Baptist minister, defied convention when he invited women to preach at his pulpit. Clearly this was not the norm back in the 60’s and 70’s.
Here is what she had to say about her dad: 
“My father was always fighting a fight for someone…I saw my father advocate for women to serve in leadership positions in his church. For him, talent could not go unrewarded. So from him I got the view that there were no limitations just because I was a girl…The aspirations and dreams he had for my brothers were the same ones he had for me.


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Singer Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and said, “The first songs I sang in church were ‘Jesus Be a Fence Around Me’ and ‘I Am Sealed.’ I was around 8 or 9. My dad asked me to sing that day. I didn’t want to sing in front of an audience. But he heard the possibilities and he continued to encourage me, and thank God he did.”


That is honestly one of the most powerful ways I’ve ever heard to frame the way that a father directly influences his daughter: Dad heard the possibilities and continued to encourage

Daughters need their dads to HEAR the possibilities they don’t HEAR.
And daughters need their dads to SEE the possibilities they don’t SEE.


In other words, we daughters need to borrow our dad’s wisdom and insight and belief in us until we are able to own it for ourselves.
 
Dad, if you want to raise a confident daughter who believes in herself and steps forward to change the world around her for good, be assured that you are part of that equation and your input really does matter in the big scheme of things
 
Here’s your challenge today: Look for something specific in your daughter that you can highlight and celebrate, something that makes her smile and light up, even if she’s not good at it yet. Especially if she’s not good at it yet. (She has to start somewhere, right?).
 
And when you help your daughter hear the possibilities she can’t yet hear and see the possibilities she can’t yet see, she’ll have what she needs to become a formidable young woman who believes that anything is possible because she’s got you in her cheering section!

The Science and Power of your Heart Brain (Guest Blog by Dr. Margaret Nagib)

Michelle Watson

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Dr. Margaret Nagib is a long time friend and one whose wisdom continually inspires me. I recently interviewed her on The Dad Whisperer, and after receiving such powerful feedback, I invited her to share her insights here so all of you can glean from her wisdom too. Enjoy!  ~ Michelle

Have you ever stopped to notice how many phrases we use to refer to the one part of our body that generates our physical pulse: our heart?

You can ‘listen to your heart’ and ‘know your heart’, discern the ‘heart of a matter’ or have a ‘change of heart.’ You can be careful to ‘guard your heart,’ and avoid having it broken or stolen, but when you are with someone you love, you may ‘give your heart away.’

You can do something ‘to your heart’s content’ or ‘halfheartedly’ if you decide your ‘heart’s not in it.’ You can even ‘pour your heart out’ while having a ‘heart to heart’ talk. You may be known as a ‘heartthrob,’ a ‘sweetheart,' or a ‘cold-hearted heart-breaker’. You can ‘know by heart, ’‘lead from your heart,’ or make a fashion statement by ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve.’

All this to say, we believe our hearts to be more than a simple pump.

And the latest heart science backs this up. Research has shown the heart is the driving force of our biological system and is highly complex with a functional brain.

The ‘heart brain,’ as it is called, actually enables the heart to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex (which is the part of our brain with four specific lobes that are each responsible for processing different types of sensory information.)

It is fascinating to consider that the heart communicates information via electromagnetic signals to the brain and body that influence our behaviors and choices, as well as the way we process emotions. 

The brain has an electromagnetic field of about an inch, but with our heart there is an even larger scope of impact with an electromagnetic field that releases five to twelve feet outside of our body while simultaneously permeating every one of our internal cells. 

Unlike other organs in our body, the heart’s electromagnetic field is charged with emotion that it encodes and then sends throughout that field. The emotions that the heart radiates affects the social climate around us. We undeniably affect other people with what we send through this electromagnetic field.

What this means for you is that while you can’t read your daughter’s mind, you can read her heart!  

The opposite also applies. She is a curious and sensitive creature who can pick up on the emotions you are experiencing. 

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Since our thoughts and emotions transmit outwardly via our heart’s electromagnetic field, you can have a powerful positive (or negative) affect on your daughter without saying a word or even being aware of it, even when you’re a distance away.

In addition to affecting the emotional climate within and around us, heart brain science has proven that when we focus on strong positive emotions, like love, this has powerfully positive effects on:

·    emotional balance
·    synchronization of multiple systems within the body
·    increased parasympathetic activity (calming response)
·    harmonious functioning
·    physical health and vitality.

Both you and your daughter can experience the powerful positive affects that accumulate over time by learning to harness the power of positive emotion being sent throughout the body via its electromagnetic field. 

A great way to address the connection between your physical heart and emotional health is through a simple focus and breathing exercise designed to increase what scientists call our “heart’s coherence.” When you engage in this exercise in as little as five minutes a day, the heart rhythm reaches a coherence state which is ideal for experiencing physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. 

Try practicing these three easy steps to maximize the powerful benefits:

1. Heart focusguide your attention to your heart.
2. Heart breathingfocus on your breath and imagine breathing in and out of your heart.
3. Heart feeling (This one is the most important!): while breathing, focus on something that evokes a positive emotion to re-experience it in the current moment. This involves focusing on or recalling a time when you felt a positive emotion like the feeling of loving someone or something, or the experience of feeling loved by someone else. The goal is to re-experience love in the current moment. This, combined with heart focus and heart breathing, can greatly improve your overall mental health and physical well-being.

This exercise will not only help you improve your own well-being, but when it is combined with the awareness that your state can positively affect others, you can begin to have an amazing and powerful affect on those around you. 

Dads, your heart is your most powerful weapon. And when a father is connected with his heart, it influences everything he does. Let your daughter feel your love for her today as your heart brain leads the way…even from twelve feet away!


If you’d like to listen to Dr. Margaret talk more about this concept, you can listen to her interview with Dr. Michelle on The Dad Whisperer.


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Dr. Margaret Nagib is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Wheaton, IL and specializes in spirituality, inner healing and treating eating disorders, trauma, addiction, self-injury and mood disorders. For over 20 years, she has provided individual, family and group therapy.

She is the author of Souls Like Stars: Renew Your Mind, Heal Your Heart, Unveil Your ShineSozo for Professional Counselors: Integrating Psychology and Inner Healing to Restore Individuals to Wholeness and Soul Making: A 12 week Group-Based Sozo Experience.

How do You Define a Hero? Let's Ask Meghan McCain

Michelle Watson

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America mourned the loss of a national hero last week, that of 81-year old Senator John McCain.

Perhaps you viewed the televised services where his family, friends, and colleagues celebrated, highlighted, and honored him for the profound impact he had on their lives. I watched some of the memorial service as it aired live and I was deeply touched by the tributes that were shared about him, namely that he was a man who spoke his mind freely with conviction and one who fiercely pursued his friendships, regardless of gender, financial status, or political standing. 

I don’t know about you, but those are qualities I truly admire in a person.

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit on, I imagine that most every one of us would agree that this man gave much of himself to our country because of his love for America. John McCain invested his time and energy for the causes that were close to his heart over the course of three and a half decades. For his immense sacrifice, we are truly grateful.

All week I’ve been struck by the fact that almost every time Senator McCain’s name has been mentioned, it has been preceded by the word, “hero.” 

Let’s be honest. Wouldn’t most of us, especially you as men, love to have a similar description said about you at the time of your death?Consequently, I’ve been asking myself what it is about that word that defined this gentleman?

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  • Is it because he was a naval aviator in the Vietnam War who was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese, only then to be severely tortured and locked in solitary confinement for two of his five and a half years as a POW? Perhaps.
  • Is it because he chose not to accept an early repatriation offer while in captivity, refusing to leave until every man captured before him had been released? Perhaps.
  • Is it because he engaged in nine months of grueling physical therapy upon his return to the US, determined to fly again despite few believing it could happen, only to pass his physical exam and have his flight status reinstated? Perhaps. 
  • Is it because he was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart Medal because of his actions as a prisoner of war, followed years later with receiving the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and a Gold Star Medal, among others? Perhaps. 
  • Is it because he was later elected to the House of Representatives where he served for two terms? Perhaps.
  • Is it because he was an Arizona congressman and senator who easily won reelection six times? Perhaps. 
  • Is it because of being named by Time magazine as one of America's 10 Best Senators in 2006? Perhaps.
  • Is it because he twice ran for President of the United States, demonstrating a courageous willingness to lead our country while fulfilling a vision he’d had as a POW when telling other prisoners that when he got out he wanted to become President? Perhaps.

Yet beyond all of that, I believe that the most significant definition of “hero” came from his daughter, Meghan, when she honored her father in two specific extraordinary ways.

First, on the day of her dad’s death she posted one of the most powerful statements I’ve ever read from a daughter about her dad. In fact, after reading it I felt prompted to share her words on social media while adding this challenge, “Dads---let this serve as a model of what you want your daughter to say about you after you’re gone.” 

To my surprise, I soon discovered that it was the most shared post of anything I’ve ever put on Facebook, revealing to me that Meghan’s words resonated powerfully with both men and women. Here’s what she wrote:

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"I was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. In the thirty-three years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things.

He loved me, and I loved him. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman – and he showed me what it is to be a man.

All that I am is thanks to him. Now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love.

My father’s passing comes with sorrow and grief for me, for my mother, for my brothers, and for my sisters. He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth for so very long. We know that his flame lives on, in each of us.The days and years to come will not be the same without my dad – but they will be good days, filled with life and love, because of the example he lived for us.

My father is gone, and
I miss him as only as an adoring daughter can.But in this loss, and in this sorrow, I take comfort in this: John McCain, hero of the republicand to his little girl,wakes today to something more glorious than anything on earth. Today the warrior enters his true and eternal life, greeted by those who have gone before him, rising to meet the Author of All Things."


Hearing this adult daughter refer to herself as her dad’s “little girl,” and as one who sees him not only as a national hero, but most importantly, as her own, is the one endorsement that matters above the restAnd even without him here on earth to remind her that she’s valuable to him, she is committed to living each day in ways that make him proud. 

Without a doubt, her dad’s love will always remain alive in her

That reality was even more boldly declared during her 17-minute eulogy held at the National Cathedral, one spoken mostly through tears, where her words touched the hearts of every person listening. In it she said:

"Dad, I love you, I always have. All that I am, all that I hope, all that I dream is grounded in what you taught me. You loved me and you showed me what love must be.

The best of John McCain, the greatest of his titles and the most important of his roles was as a father. Today I want to share with you where I found out who John McCain truly was. It wasn't in the Hanoi Hilton. It wasn't in the cockpit of a fast and lethal fighter jet. It wasn't on the high seas or on the campaign trail. John McCain was in all of those places, but the best of him was somewhere else.

My father was a great man. He was a great warrior. He was a great American. I admired him for all of these things, but I love him because he was a great father."

We know that heroes aren’t born; they’re created when ordinary people do extraordinary things. And we also know that heroes aren’t self-selected; they’re named as such by those who deem their actions worthy of the title.

Dad, it doesn’t matter what the world has to say about you if those precious lives you brought into the world don’t see the best of you. 

If you want to know what it a hero looks like through the eyes of your daughter, just ask her to define what a hero looks like to herLether responses direct you and define your purpose. Then choose daily to live up to her ideals, wishes, needs, and dreams. 

And remember that sometimes it’s the little things make the biggest impactkeeping your promises, listening to her thoughts and feelings, drying her tears with your shirt sleeve, responding with kindness and not anger, all the while cheering her on from the stands with no cell phone in hand to distract you from being fully present.  

Today is a new day. 

Hero training starts now.

What Your Daughter Really Longs For

Michelle Watson

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Hi friends... I'm excited to repost this blog from earlier this year because many of you wrote and let me know this one struck a chord with you. I trust you'll enjoy it again and let's see if it's better the second time around!
–-Michelle


I wish you could sit in my counseling office, even for part of a day, because you’d hear what I consistently hear from teenage girls and 20-something women.

You’d hear how often they doubt themselves, how often they fear a future without a boyfriend to love them back, how often they don’t know how to express what’s really going on inside so tears flow freely without words. You’d hear how often they can’t get their feet on the ground when their primary relationships are in turmoil, how often they feel they don’t matter because they haven’t yet figured out their purpose, and how often they wonder where God is at in the mix of the confusion and conflict, disappointments and delays, heartbreak and hopelessness.

And if you were there with me, the two of us would actually realize that we were standing on sacred ground. For whenever someone invites us into their deepest, most vulnerable place--that place that is raw and real, where it’s messy and complicated--we actually receive a gift. To be trusted at that level is an honor of unparalleled proportion.

Dad, do you know how privileged you are when your daughter lets you know her at that depth? I guarantee that she wants to be known by you and it’s up to you to create an atmosphere of acceptance where she feels safe enough to reveal her heart to you.

It’s in the context of that personal relationship that you will pour into your daughter’s heart from the overflow in yours. And just in case she doesn’t quite have the words to tell you what she needs, I’ll do my best to say it for her.

  • She longs for you to notice her.
  • She longs for you to listen to her.
  • She longs for you to affirm her.
  • She longs to know that you believe she is worthy.
  • She longs for you to never give up on her.
  • She longs for you to be patient with her (especially when you’re struggling the most to do so).
  • She longs for you to keep your promises.
  • She longs for you to comfort her with your steady, solid, strong, masculine presence.
  • She longs for you to validate her (even when she doesn’t make sense to you).
  • She longs for you to love her where she’s at, flaws and all.
  • She longs for you to tell her what you see when you look at her.
  • She longs for you to express why you love her.
  • She longs to hear that she’s beautiful in your eyes.
  • She longs for you to choose her even when everything else calls for your attention.
  • She longs for you to pursue her even when she pushes you away for a season.
  • She longs for you to give of yourself and your resources (which tangibly tells her she’s valuable).
  • She longs for you to humbly admit when you’ve blown it and ask for forgiveness.
  • She longs for you to be present and involved because it says that her life matters to you.

The more you care about her longings, the more she will connect with them herself.

And the more she connects with her longings, the more she will thrive while saying, “all my longings lie open before you, O Lord.” (Psalm 18:24).

Be the First

Michelle Watson

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You may be asking yourself, “Haven’t I read this post before?!” My answer is,“Hopefully YES…and please read it again!” Why? Because I’m taking the month off to rest, refuel, and continue writing my second book for dads of daughters. So for the month of August, I’ll be reposting two of my “Best of" Dad-Daughter-Friday blogs. May the second time around provide you with new insights or the chance to put something into action you haven't yet tried. And if you’re new to my blog, welcome!

When I think about the concept of firsts, especially when it comes to fathers understanding their daughters with more precision, I want to highlight what a big deal “firsts” are for us as girls.
 
To prove my point, you could ask any adult woman when she had her first crush. She’ll immediately tell you because that memory is frozen in time and available for fast recall whenever prompted. 
 
Ask her about her first kiss, her first dance, first prom, or first breakup. They’re all filed away.
 
Now let’s change it up a bit and address more than just romance or heartbreak. 
 
You could ask about her first job, her first paycheck, first car or first bad grade. Yep….all stored in the vault.
 
Here’s how I see it. If your daughter is wired to remember firsts, then why not capitalize on that reality by being the first to do it right and get it right…all en route to her heart. 
 
Dad, what if you made it your goal between now and the end of the year to create new memories?

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  • Be the first to tell her you love her every single day so she never has to wonder if you do.
  • Be the first to choose kindness because it’s a virtue you want her to exemplify.
  • Be the first to set the bar high in modeling what a good man looks like so all other men will be compared to you.
  • Be the first to tell her you’re sorry.
  • Be the first to show her that strong men can cry.
  • Be the first to model what humility looks like.
  • Be the first to write her a note telling her what you find special about her.
  • Be the first to take her on an adventure.
  • Be the first to buy her a “just-because” treat.
  • Be the first to take her out for an extravagant meal.
  • Be the first to wipe her tears and hold her in your arms when her life goes sideways.
  • Be the first to listen rather than lecture.
  • Be the first to “hold their anger” without reacting harshly in return.
  • Be the first to initiate deep conversations about spirituality, God, faith, politics, goals, and even your life growing up.
  • Be the first to model a healthy spiritual life so she can follow your example.
  • Be the first to give of your time and energy to serve her.
  • Be the first to invest in launching her dreams by funding a project she is passionate about.
  • Be the first to applaud her successes from the front row.


Why be the first?
 
It’s the best way to show her what love looks like when backed by action. Better yet, she’ll relate to all other men based on what she experiences with you. 
 
Dad…you have a powerful opportunity to lead the way in loving your daughter first. Decide now to make this a year of firsts, beginning by choosing one thing in the list to put into action today!